Johor biotech park faces shortage of skilled workers

State Consumerism, Human Resources and Unity Committee chairman Dr S.Ramakrishnan (middle), Malaysian Bio-XCell Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Mazlan Ami (left) and Unit Swadaya Insan Negeri Johor general manager Dr Khalid Jusoh (right) looking at the model of Biotechnology Park and Ecosystem at Iskandar Puteri on Sep 4.

ISKANDAR PUTERI: Johor’s mission to venture into biotechnology sector is not going smoothly due to the lack of skilled and knowledgeable workers.

State Consumerism, Human Resources and Unity Committee chairman Dr S. Ramakrishnan said long-term efforts were needed to address the matter.

“Failing to overcome the shortage of skilled workers will hamper Johor’s mission and vision to develop its biotechnology sector,” he said during his visit to BioXCell Malaysia Sdn Bhd, a technology park for bio-based companies in Iskandar Puteri.

He said feedback from companies operating at BioXCell showed that they had problems hiring skilled and knowledgeable workers in biotech industry.

Ramakrishnan said the country’s 15 public universities offering biotech courses did not produce enough graduates to cater to the needs from biotech companies.

“It has something to do with our education system even at the tertiary level, which do not keep update with the changes in techologies in the bioteach industry,” he said.

Ramakrishnan said all stakeholders including the Education Ministry and Human Resources Ministry should sit down and review the current education system.

He said universities needed to review their current syllabus to cater for needs by the industries including in research and development activities.

“Our close proximity with Singapore is also a disadvantage to us, as many of our skilled workers are pinched by biotech companies there,” said Ramakrishnan.

BioXCell chief executive officer Mazlan Amir said about 50% of the 64.75ha biotechnology park has been occupied by local and foreign companies.

He said they included Biocon from India, Amore Pacific from South Korea, Enaq Sauce from Malaysia as well as Hydromission and BioAyzia from Singapore.

“We are talking to several companies from Singapore planning to set up their operations at the park,” he said.

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